Updated Grades for Every Impact NBA Rookie at the End of 2012-13 Season

Daniel O'Brien@@DanielO_BRFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2013

Updated Grades for Every Impact NBA Rookie at the End of 2012-13 Season

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    It's time to put a bow on the 2012-13 NBA regular season as we dish out final grades to each impact rookie.

    Five first-year stars earned marks in the "A" range. Who else besides Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard received strong grades?

    For many rookies, the NBA season is a grueling marathon unlike anything they've experienced before. Some handle the ups and downs better than others.

    Find out what everyone's report card looks like now that the dust has settled.

    * "Impact Rookie" defined as a rookie who logged at least 17 minutes per game in 2012-13.

Statistical Notes

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    For each player, we provided our typical 2012-13 per-game averages and shooting percentages. But in this final edition of rookie grades, we also included some advanced statistics to give a more detailed look at their seasons.

    For the advanced statistics, here's an explanation from Basketball-Reference.com of the abbreviations and their relation to a rookie's impact

    TS% = True Shooting Percentage: a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account two-point field goals, three-point field goals and free throws.

    EFG% = Effective Field Goal Percentage: adjusts for the fact that a three-point field goal is worth one more point than a two-point field goal.

    PER = Player Efficiency Rating: a measure of per-minute production standardized, such that the league average is 15 (one of the best indicators of efficiency).

    NetPH = Net Points Per 100 Possessions (via 82games.com).

Austin Rivers, New Orleans Hornets

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    2012-13 Stats: 23.2 MPG, 6.2 PPG, 2.1 APG, 37% FG, 33% 3PT

    Advanced Stats: .431 TS%, .408 EFG%, -2.8 NetPH, 5.9 PER

    More than a month has passed since Austin Rivers last played, and we still haven't forgotten how disappointing he was.

    To be fair, the New Orleans Hornets gunner shot the ball much better in the two weeks leading up to his broken hand.

    It won't be enough to spruce up his report card, because he was woefully inefficient from the field for months. Rivers didn't end up being as dangerous on the wing as Hornets brass hoped.

    Updated Grade: D+

Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors

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    2012-13 Stats: 17.0 MPG, 6.4 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 41% FG, 33% 3PT

    Advanced Stats: .491 TS%, .478 EFG%, -0.4 NetPH, 10.4 PER

    Because he thrives primarily in the open floor, Toronto Raptors shooting guard Terrence Ross struggled to find consistency throughout the winter.

    Toward the end of the season, he found some of the shooting touch general manager Bryan Colangelo had in mind when he drafted him. Ross shot 50 percent in April after floundering from the field for five months.

    Although he didn't produce like a top-10 pick, Ross is a promising piece for a franchise trending upward.

    Updated Grade: C+

Jae Crowder, Dallas Mavericks

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    2012-13 Stats: 17.3 MPG, 5.0 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 38% FG, 33% 3PT

    Advanced Stats: .491 TS%, .470 EFG%, +4.9 NetPH, 10.2 PER

    Early in the 2012-13 campaign, Dallas Mavericks forward Jae Crowder looked like a top-10 rookie. Unfortunately, his offense dwindled as the season progressed because he struggled to create his own shot.

    He remained a factor, however, because of his defensive prowess. Mavs opponents consistently scored fewer points while Crowder was on the floor, as he often slowed down their premier swingmen.

    Considering he was a second-round pick, 17 minutes per game on a .500 club isn't too shabby.

    Grade: C+

Tyler Zeller, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    2012-13 Stats: 26.4 MPG, 7.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 44% FG

    Advanced Stats: .486 TS%, .438 EFG%, -2.3 NetPH, 11.0 PER

    Tyler Zeller's responsibilities increased throughout the winter, especially when Anderson Varejao went down for the season.

    Into April, he still hadn't established much consistency as a scorer, and he was often overmatched defensively. According to Synergy Sports, opponents converted 54 percent of post-ups against him, while he only scored on 25 percent himself.

    Moving forward, he needs to become more dynamic in order to merit a starting job in the league.

    Updated Grade: C+

Jeffery Taylor, Charlotte Bobcats

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    2012-13 Stats: 19.6 MPG, 6.1 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 43% FG, 34% 3PT

    Advanced Stats: .531 TS%, .497 EFG%, +3.0 NetPH, 10.3 PER

    A second-round choice who logged substantial minutes early on, Jeffery Taylor utilized his athleticism and jump shot throughout the season.

    His recent exploits include a 12-point, three-assist outing in the Charlotte Bobcats' win over the New York Knicks, but he's been unproductive for the most part.

    The goal for his sophomore season is to prove that he can be a role player on any team, not just the lowly 'Cats.

    Updated Grade: B-

Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers

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    2012-13 Stats: 17.5 MPG, 5.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 55% FG

    Advanced Stats: .596 TS%, .551 EFG%, -8.3 NetPH, 12.1 PER

    Most of Meyers Leonard's workload has come in the last month as injuries have decimated the Portland Trail Blazers.

    On one end, he's proven himself to be an effective low-post finisher and mid-range shooter. On the other end, he has some work to do. He's not bad in isolation, but in the pick-and-roll, Leonard allows 1.07 points per possession, according to Synergy Sports.

    When he inevitably improves as a stopper, he'll be a superb all-around center.

    Updated Grade: B

Kyle Singler, Detroit Pistons

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    2012-13 Stats: 28.0 MPG, 8.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 43% FG, 35% 3PT

    Advanced Stats: .517 TS%, .483 EFG%, +3.2 NetPH, 10.0 PER

    Swingman Kyle Singler wasn't as dominant or impressive as fellow Detroit Pistons rookie Andre Drummond. Nevertheless, he affected the club in several areas.

    Although his one-on-one defense wasn't sparkling, Detroit yielded 3.2 fewer points per 100 possessions while he was in the game, according to 82games.com.

    Singler's outside shooting finally returned to form in April, as he shot 37 percent from beyond the arc this month.

    Updated Grade: B

Alexey Shved, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    2012-13 Stats: 23.9 MPG, 8.6 PPG, 3.7 APG, 37% FG, 30% 3PT

    Advanced Stats: .474 TS%, .439 EFG%, +2.4 NetPH, 11.0 PER

    Since he couldn't snap out of a season-long shooting slump, Alexey Shved's role decreased significantly in March.

    In the big picture, he enjoyed a solid rookie campaign as a playmaker and dime-dropper. If he was just a couple shades better from beyond the arc, he would be a double-digit scorer.

    His primary focus this summer will be shooting more effectively off the dribble.

    Updated Grade: B

Patrick Beverley, Houston Rockets

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    2012-13 Stats: 17.4 MPG, 5.6 PPG, 2.9 APG, 42% FG, 38% 3PT

    Advanced Stats: .551 TS%, .513 EFG%, +5.8 NetPH, 15.4 PER

    If his half season of play is an indication of the trajectory of his career, Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley will be a dangerous reserve floor general.

    The 24-year-old's speed makes an impact on both ends of the floor, as he supplies an extra burst of energy for his squad when he enters the game. Beverley always looks to put pressure on defenders and set up his teammates, and he's a solid outside shooter as well.

    He didn't have an NBA job this fall, but he won't have to worry about that next year.

    Updated Grade: B+

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats

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    2012-13 Stats: 26.0 MPG, 9.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 46% FG

    Advanced Stats: .506 TS%, .460 EFG%, +2.2 NetPH, 14.0 PER

    The transition to the pros wasn't particularly smooth for Charlotte Bobcats forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and the jury is still out on him offensively.

    We didn't expect tremendous production because his jump shot is so raw, but we nonetheless hope for big things in the future from 2012's No. 2 pick.

    Meanwhile, as a defender and rebounder, Kidd-Gilchrist continued to excel. He ripped down 7.8 boards in his last 10 games, giving him 5.8 rebounds in 26 minutes per game for 2012-13. That makes him the best rebounding small forward rookie by a landslide.

    Updated Grade: B

Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors

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    2012-13 Stats: 25.4 MPG, 9.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 44% FG, 36% 3PT

    Advanced Stats: .526 TS%, .481 EFG%, +2.8 NetPH, 11.0 PER

    Of all the impact rookies on this list, Harrison Barnes is the only one who's a starter on a playoff squad. That's not by accident.

    While Stephen Curry and David Lee have done their thing, Barnes has taken care of a lot of the miscellaneous housekeeping such as weak-side rebounding, defending prolific scorers and slashing to set up shooters.

    As soon as he brings offensive confidence to each game, he'll be more than a role player.

    Updated Grade: B+

Maurice Harkless, Orlando Magic

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    2012-13 Stats: 26.0 MPG, 8.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 46% FG, 27% 3PT

    Advanced Stats: .504 TS%, .489 EFG%, -9.8 NetPH, 12.5 PER

    Don't let those season averages fool you. They're not indicative of Maurice Harkless' impact the last couple months.

    The Orlando Magic forward emerged as a successful assertive slasher in the Southeast Division, and he also frustrated opponents by forcing turnovers and working the glass.

    Four straight double-digit outings is a good way for him to end the season, and Orlando hopes those types of games can be commonplace in the future.

    Updated Grade: B+

Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics

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    2012-13 Stats: 19.8 MPG, 6.0 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 49% FG

    Advanced Stats: .534 TS%, .496 EFG%, +3.2 NetPH, 13.5 PER

    Jared Sullinger's back prevented Boston Celtics fans from enjoying his hard-hat work in the season's second half. Since this is the final installment of rookie grades, we'll assess his 45-game campaign.

    Offensively, he was capable but not dynamic.

    Defensively, he was feisty but inefficient.

    On the glass, he was awesome.

    If we take two things away from Sullinger's rookie year, it's his scrappiness and rebounding prowess.

    Updated Grade: B+

Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    2012-13 Stats: 28.8 MPG, 14.7 PPG, 3.0 APG, 41% FG, 31% 3PT

    Advanced Stats: .492 TS%, .451 EFG%, +0.1 NetPH, 13.7 PER

    With back-to-back 16-point outings, Dion Waiters finished strong and stands poised to carve up the Central Division in 2013-14.

    Shooting-wise, he had a roller-coaster season, winding up at 31 percent from distance.

    Production-wise, he exceeded expectations and made the Cleveland Cavaliers look good for drafting him fourth overall. If his shot selection and decision-making improve, he'll be a star in the near future. We know he has the physical tools to make it happen.

    Updated Grade: B+

Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors

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    2012-13 Stats: 23.9 MPG, 8.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 56% FG

    Advanced Stats: .616 TS%, .555 EFG%, -2.3 NetPH, 15.4 PER

    In his last 10 games, Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas put Eastern Conference centers on notice with his 15.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

    He's only 20 years old, and he's on a fast track to becoming a low-post force. Throughout 2012-13, he grew more comfortable with his post moves and progressed as a defender.

    Valanciunas was magnificent in the pick-and-roll, shooting 63 percent and notching 1.23 points per possession (via Synergy Sports).

    Updated Grade: A-

Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

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    2012-13 Stats: 20.7 MPG, 7.9 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 61% FG

    Advanced Stats: .578 TS%, .610 EFG%, +7.3 NetPH, 21.6 PER

    If Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond can add some semblance of finesse to his game, he has the potential to be a superstar.

    His rookie year was one marked by strength and explosiveness. Few could contain him on the glass, and consequently, he hauled in 13.2 boards per 36 minutes.

    Drummond didn't just rebound, though. His end-to-end mobility allowed him to finish lobs, get good post position and protect the rim superbly.

    Updated Grade: A-

Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

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    2012-13 Stats: 31.2 MPG, 13.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 41% FG, 39% 3PT

    Advanced Stats: .515 TS%, .477 EFG%, -2.8 NetPH, 13.6 PER

    Injuries derailed the end of Bradley Beal's exciting rookie season. Fortunately, he had already made a good impression and earned a healthy grade.

    The Washington Wizards sharpshooter was far from sharp before Christmas, but John Wall's return helped bring out the best in the 19-year-old.

    In the month of January, he sank a blistering 51 percent of his triple tries, reminding everyone why Washington chose him third overall in June. His development as a talented all-around player is almost a bonus at this point.

    Updated Grade: A-

Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets

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    2012-13 Stats: 28.8 MPG, 13.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 52% FG

    Advanced Stats: .559 TS%, .516 EFG%, -1.3 NetPH, 21.7 PER

    Before an MCL sprain cut his season short, New Orleans Hornets power forward Anthony Davis had a glorious spring.

    Since the beginning of March, Davis posted 16-plus points per game and nearly 10 boards per night as well. He was aggressive and smart at the same time, and he found new ways to take advantage of his wingspan and athleticism.

    A huge factor in his bump in production was his frequent trips to the free-throw line. That's just one of the ways he stands out compared to other rookie big men.

    Updated Grade: A+

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

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    2012-13 Stats: 38.6 MPG, 19.0 PPG, 6.5 APG, 43% FG, 37% 3PT

    Advanced Stats: .546 TS%, .501 EFG%, +10.3 NetPH, 16.4 PER

    Even though his team faded from the playoff picture, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard didn't budge from his place in the 2012-13 rookie hierarchy.

    His accomplishments go beyond comparisons with this year's class. Only a small handful of rookie point guards in NBA history could run an offense and create like he did.

    Lillard certainly has room for improvement, especially becoming a next-level point guard and playing the angles better. For now, let's revel in his excellent report card and inevitable Rookie of the Year honors.

    Updated Grade: A+


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